Supervisors address concerns with Franklin Telephone broadband project

Published 3:27 pm Monday, July 17, 2023

WEST LINCOLN — Ryan Holmes and Greg Malta answered questions from the Lincoln County Board of Supervisors on Franklin Telephone’s Easement Proposal Monday morning. The proposal follows the company asking for a letter to be signed by the board to support a grant application for expanding broadband access in the county on July 3. 

Franklin Telephone’s grant application estimates the project would lay 45.92 miles of mainline fiber optic cable and 222 homes could take the services. 

Malta, Lincoln County Board Attorney, said he and Holmes, Lincoln County Engineer, met with two executives from Franklin Telephone last week. One concern they had with the easements was Franklin Telephone wanted to bore down into the ditches to bury lines. The parameters were they could bore down 20 feet but wanted to go just six or seven feet. District 4 Supervisor Eddie Brown had his reservations. 

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“I don’t like the idea of putting anything in a ditch. Some of these roads are so narrow there is no ditch,” Brown said. 

District 5 Supervisor Doug Falvey said he has worked with telephone companies before who don’t always bury their lines as deep as they say they will. He wanted to know if the county would be responsible for any lines hit that are shallower than six feet when they do work. District 3 Supervisor Nolan Williamson said he wants Franklin Telephone to know their lines have to be as deep as they say they will be or repairs will be on them. 

Holmes said he understood the concern and boring companies often go from point a to point b as quickly as possible. The permit application requires Franklin County to relocate lines at their costs, Malta said. 

“My only concern is damage to the line. Would it be satisfactory if the easement says any damage above six feet is their responsibility and any damage below is our’s,” Malta said. “I’ll make sure the language protects the county.”

The supervisors said they wanted the lines to be deeper on creek crossings due to pipes and bridges. Holmes said the concern had been discussed. Supervisors voted to approve the easement proposal with language protecting the county. 

Holmes said Franklin County’s plans are broad early on and he has not gone through Franklin Telephone’s plans thoroughly yet. He suggested a ride along with Brown to look at the planned routes.

“Most of the time they are broad in plans and then go out there and make a lot of field adjustments. We think it is best to get in a vehicle and ride the route. They would flag the exact route when we get closer,” Holmes said. “You would have a second opportunity to have it adjusted.”